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Tippett: Return of veterans helping Coyotes' penalty kill

Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris (53) fires a shot that beat Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard for a goal in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

During the Phoenix Coyotes' road trip slump last week, one of the issues was the team's penalty kill. In two losses to San Jose and the New York Islanders, they allowed four power play goals in 10 opportunities. In the four games since, the Coyotes have allowed just two goals in shorthanded scenarios.

The reason for the turnaround, according to head coach Dave Tippett, lies in the return of veteran defensemen Rostislav Klesla and Derek Morris, who have 29 years of NHL experience combined.

"Those two veteran guys coming in on the penalty kill certainly helped, just to stabilize," Tippett told Arizona Sports 620's Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta Wednesday. "And that was like the rest of our game, we just needed to stabilize. We had some veteran players out, some young players playing and when things aren't going well, the veteran players tend to be able to grab that situation a lot easier and do some good things."

Another player Tippett believes will help the group going forward is center Jeff Halpern, who signed with the Coyotes on Oct. 12.

"He jumped in (Tuesday) night for his first game, did a real nice job, was eight-and-one on faceoffs," Tippett said. "He'll continue to grow with the group."

The team currently ranks 20th in the NHL with a 78.1 penalty kill percentage, but their 88.9 percent mark in the last five games would be good for a top-three spot.

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